Charred Walls of the Damned – Control Wounds Open the DeniedSunday, 18th September 2016
Unless you live under a rock or sans internet access, most of the metal world knows of at least one (or more) members from Charred Walls of the Damned. Vocalist Tim Owens took over for Rob Halford in Judas Priest during the 1990’s before the metal god returned to the fold, bassist Steve DiGiorgio has been involved in Death and currently holds down duties with Testament, and guitarist Jason Suecof runs Audiohammer Studios where Battlecross and Death Angel among others currently record at. Then there is drummer Richard Christy – founder, main songwriter, and metal encyclopedia – as well as one of the premiere kit masters in the field, playing in everything from Death, Control Denied, and Iced Earth among others.
On a five-year break from touring and recording during the late 2000’s when Richard’s new day job at the Howard Stern Show took precedence, the man felt the need to create and perform again, which has resulted in two previous albums of killer power/ thrash metal in 2010’s self-titled debut and the following year’s Cold Winds on Timeless Days. The recently released third platter Creatures Watching Over the Dead is a precise, explosive effort that gets in and gets out nine dynamic tracks in a tidy 34-minute window – featuring crunchy riffs, soaring melodies, and dramatic speed/tempo shifts that just epitomize Metal! If you are a fan of Painkiller period Judas Priest, the aforementioned Iced Earth, as well as the twist of thrash/death that comes naturally to these musicians, CWotD needs to be a part of your life.
In a scant twenty minutes Richard and I cover the tight windows and preparation necessary to get these albums done, a hefty discussion on lesser known bands they’d love to cover such as Infernal Majesty, Banshee, and Wrathchild America, drumming advice, and picking the brains of people like John Carpenter, Lars Ulrich, and Tommy Lee Flood. Plus, I learned at the end of our talk the reason behind wearing diapers to metal shows works for him (opening for Iron Maiden when he played with Demons and Wizards, beer consumption took precedence over missing one note of Eddie and the boys). Take it away, Richard.
Dead Rhetoric: Where does your passion for drumming come from – and how quickly did you gravitate to heavy metal?
Richard Christy: If I had to pinpoint it, my passion comes from two things. Peter Criss in Kiss, my aunt Theresa for my fourth birthday bought me Kiss Alive and his solo album, randomly she bought the solo album and that really put me on the path towards being a drummer. In 1984 I heard “Hot for Teacher” by Van Halen and when I heard Alex Van Halen I was just blown away. So those two things influenced me as far as being a drummer. I started playing drums in 1984 and I wanted to play like Alex Van Halen. Just my passion for heavy metal I can pretty much point it to my neighbor Larry Bierbauer. He was a big metal head and we used to hang out together- I remember him playing me Quiet Riot’s Metal Health and right away I wanted to learn more about metal. I heard Twisted Sister – Stay Hungry, Iron Maiden – Live After Death and I’ve been a metal head ever since. So I have to send a shout out to Larry.
Dead Rhetoric: How prepared do you have to be for each Charred Walls of the Damned record given the workload for all the members outside of these recordings?
Christy: We try to be super prepared because we don’t have a lot of time in the studio because of our schedules. We try to have the songs sounding exactly like we need them to sound in the demo form. I write all the music and I play all the instruments on the demos. I go in and sing vocal melody ideas for the lyrics that I write as well. If we can we get it as close to possible in demo form, then once we get in the studio we know exactly what we need to do and we kind of just bang it out. We don’t have the luxury of having a ton of time in the studio. For the drums I had to practice every day for about a month on my parts so that I knew what I needed to do once we went in the studio. I ended up tracking all the drums in one day- which helps the other guys because of the limited time we do have due to our busy schedules. We make sure we are really, really prepared. I do pre-production with Jason and I always fly down to Florida to make sure we have the songs exactly where we need them to be so that once we are in the studio we know exactly what we are looking for.
Dead Rhetoric: Creatures Walking Over the Dead is the third studio album for the band, your first in five years. What standout moments happened during the songwriting or recording for this effort – and did you make a conscious decision to keep the album on the short side?
Christy: I don’t know if it was a conscious decision, it just kind of ended up that way. Probably during pre-production… what I did for this album which I haven’t ever done before any album is I wrote way more material than we would need just because we could have the choice of picking our favorite ones, Jason and I. I always used to write exactly what we needed for the album, but on this one I wrote 24 songs, sent them to Jason and he picked the nine that he liked the best. I listened to them and agreed with him- then during pre-production Jason is really good as a producer tightening up the songs, taking out parts that maybe go on for too long or speeding up the tempos a little more to make the songs a little bit more exciting. During pre-production is when we discovered the album was going to be a little bit more on the shorter side, from keeping the songs really tight and right to the point and taking a lot of the parts that we felt we didn’t really need. It was good because we were able to spend a lot more time on each individual song, and it ended up as a result being a little bit more powerful of an album.
Dead Rhetoric: Kudos to performing a cover of Powermad’s “Nice Dreams” back in 2010 – one of the more underrated bands on a major label back in the late 80’s. Are there other obscure acts you’d love to put the Charred Walls of the Damned spin on down the line?
Christy: Oh yeah, definitely – and that’s awesome that you love Powermad! I am a huge fan of theirs – I remember seeing the video for “Nice Dreams” on MTV’s Headbangers Ball back when I was probably 14 years old and it just blew me away. I bought their EP and Absolute Power, and their newer album is killer too. And plus (guitarist) Todd (Haug) works for an awesome brewery called Surly, that makes some killer beers. It’s killer to see metal and beer going strong together.
Yeah, there are a lot of bands from the 80’s that I really hope to cover. I know Tim and I were talking to Nick Bowcott from Grim Reaper about maybe doing a Grim Reaper song together. When we were on tour we were playing “See You in Hell” live. There is a band called Wrathchild America who I am a massive fan of- I don’t think a lot of people know about them and they are a huge influence on me. Even as far as drumming because their drummer Shannon Larkin is incredible on those albums, he plays in Godsmack now. It’s awesome to see that he’s still going strong now. There’s a band called Banshee from Kansas City, Missouri- they put out an album called Race Against Time. They were kind of like my local heroes growing up, because I grew up in Kansas, so I’d love to do a cover of one of their songs. There is a band called Infernal Majesty from Canada that I love, they did an album called None Shall Defy, I’d love to do something off their album. A band called Rage from Germany, a speed metal band that is still around. They have an album called Perfect Man, and whenever I hang out with Corpsegrinder, George Fisher from Cannibal Corpse, we get drunk and listen to that album and sing it all the way through. I’d love to do a cover of a Rage song like “Wasteland” and have George sing on it, because he can sing that style of power metal vocals really well. That would be awesome if we were ever able to do that one someday.
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